Angel in his pocket | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

If you’re not familiar with Jingle Magazine, then you’re probably under 40.

For at least two generations, this publication served as a virtual music bible for young people who wanted to learn to play the guitar, check out the lyrics of their favorite songs before Karaoke made that possible, and on the side, moon the martial law regime with the cheeky jokes and cartoons of its wise-ass staff.

Its logo was a sheepish-looking peeing angel smartly described as a Chordian Angel—“jingle” meant “pee” in the late ’70s-early ’80s, and the magazine had all these songs painstakingly fitted with chords.

Jingle was published by the Guillermo family, fearlessly featured Nora Aunor alongside the Beatles, as well as the Apo Hiking Society and Juan dela Cruz band along with the Rolling Stones, James Taylor, the Cars and whoever was the music icon of the moment.

It also played fast and loose with the political foibles of the day and, together with other prominent pre-martial law publications, had the distinction of being closed down by the Marcos minions.

Recalled Eric Guillermo in Chuck Escasa’s video docu “Jingle Lang ang Pahina”: “May general nun na kumakatok sa opisina namin, sa San Juan pa yun. Ako pa nagbukas ng gate. Tanong niya, ‘Ito ba ang Jingol Magazine? (There was this general who was knocking on our San Juan office back then. I happened to open the door, and he asked, ‘Is this Jingol Magazine)?’”

Eric is the brother of chief publisher, the iconoclastic Gilbert G, and was part of the business staff of this flourishing family operation.

A lot of pleading and bargaining later and the magazine was resurrected, was renamed Twinkle for a short while, and initially toed the line of “redeeming values” that martial law censors harped on. Later, and perhaps because it couldn’t help itself, Jingle was back to its offering of the latest songs with chords and lyrics (including some underground Leftist anthems), a collection of contributed green jokes, (Grin Page), music news (Rhythm & News), rants and raves from readers (Bongga at Boquilla), a smattering of poetry, and fierce reviews of recent vinyl record releases, the ultimate paean being the Chordian Angel rating, and the most execrable being marked with a huge fly (bangaw). Needless to say, the Magazine quickly became iconic, the most popular accessory among the hip, the counter-culture folk and the wannabes, and easily the Item Most Often Filched from friends’ homes and collections.

Smart marketing helped a lot, too, given the popularity of music radio at the time. There was Gilbert G, the publisher, approaching DZRJ before martial law when Jingle was just starting. He came by the station office and discussed with the DJs, this writer included, possible ex-deals that meant giving each other exposure in a different media.

Recalls Alan Austria, RJ general manager at the time: “Mutual understanding and benefits (was the goal), with plugs about Jingle from beginning to the end (of the show).” In return, the magazine gave RJ full-page ads. It was a win-win deal for both parties.

The first issue (no edition date, just “chapters”) came out in 1970 and had Paul McCartney on the cover. It cost a princely P3. Most issues were sold out and the publication moonwalked through the ’70s and early ’80s.

Gilbert Guillermo and Jingle Clan publications would later be inducted into the NU107 Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contribution to Publishing for the Music Industry.

But all good things must come to an end, and after 17 years, in 1987, Jingle finally marked its last chapter. Driving the nail on its coffin were several undertakers: disco (which didn’t lend itself well to guitar-playing nor singing), an escalating cover price (P40 was a lot among cash-strapped teens and students), and the end of the martial law regime the previous year (when the magazine’s uniquely pasaway character became the trademark of every other publication suddenly discovering and flaunting free expression).

With Jingle Magazine now extinct, collectors, baby boomers and latent music lovers have one rousing cry: “Where can we score back issues?”

Well, Jingle fans, meet Allen Mercado.

This guy from Roxas District, Quezon City just wanted to play the guitar and, upon discovering Jingle, became its ultimate fan. No, he never even met or knew anyone from Jingle Publishing until social media, through Facebook, led him to the Jingle Music Magazine page.

Until then, no one knew he had this stash of Jingle Magazines, all 141 issues, now hardbound. But Mercado wasn’t only a collector; it turns out he is also the ultimate Jingle geek who can rattle off facts, figures and fan fiction about the magazine.

No, martial law didn’t snip off the wings of the Chordian Angel, he says. The Marcos government may have forced Gilbert Guillermo to change Jingle to Twinkle, but the publication’s character remained intact, if slyly disguised.

“It began in Chapter XIII (1973), into the second year of martial law, and going strong until the magazine reverted back to Jingle 1975,” Mercado recounts. For sure, there was some lip service done to the existing mores of the day: “The staff (did away) with the long hair of hippies in its stories and jokes, and made sure that everyone’s ears were showing. (There were such) superficial edits,” notes Mercado.

The frequency, given the magazine’s erratic sked and credo of publishing at its own pace, wasn’t that affected by martial law’s eagle eye, either. “Doing the math, Jingle/Twinkle from 1973-1975 sold 14 issues, not bad for a publication under scrutiny,” Mercado says, adding: “If the government had looked carefully, they could have closed Jingle (for good).”

He could be right. Protest songs with chords were hidden in plain sight, with the all-caps double-entendre HITSHITSHITSHITS across the pages wagging its tongue out at the censors.

But the mojo was gone by 1987.

Says Mercado: “Although 140 Chapters exist, the publishers tried to revive Jingle in 1992 with a mysterious Chapter XXII, No. 1; instead of Chapter 141.” Grace Nono and Joey Ayala were on that cover, but it didn’t connect with the times and abruptly ended Jingle’s second run.

Mercado continues to share some of the pages from random chapters of Jingle Magazine on its Facebook, but the entire history of Jingle/Twinkle, every single word, can only be found in his hardbound compilation.

Mercado saved up his recess and lunch money so he could buy records, comic books and magazines, including Jingle which fortunately for him, didn’t come out that regularly. “I had enough time to save up for it,” he recalls.

Like most diligent collectors, he had his Jingle copies bound so the pages won’t get creased—and yes, it gave him a good excuse not to lend them out.  While some of the copies were damaged by termites—endemic in these parts—floods never got to them.  “Our street is flood-free, so no problem,” he says.

And, until this issue comes out, not many people know that Mercado has a complete collection, so no one has bid for them, so far.

“I don’t have any plans to sell,” says this UP Civil Engineering grad who now works for a Florida-based architectural firm. “I wouldn’t know how much the collection should cost anyway,” he adds.

Aside from Escasa’s excellent video-docu (which will be shown Nov. 9-10 as part of the November HiFi Show at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati. Call tel. 0922-5391759 for details), the last time this iconic magazine was used in public performance was when Joonie Centeno, a vocalist of the band Wally and Friends, once put a copy of Jingle on a music stand onstage from where he read lyrics to classic rock songs. In 2013, another singer, Kat Agarrado, hit the stage with an iPad, the lyrics digitally flowing without paper.

These days, the only way we can recall the good times pre-karaoke when music brought together the barkada, families and musicians strumming along with the irreverent Jingle angel logo and its beautiful muse, Myra Mendoza (who, incidentally has become a painter), is through its pages randomly posted on Jingle’s FB page.

Thank you, Allen Mercado. •



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